I finally decided it was time to try working with gum paste so I bought a small tub of it today. I opened it tonight and the top of the blob is absolutely hard. I pulled the bag out and it's a bit softer on the bottom. I realize I will have to knead it and work with it a bit, but I cut a piece of the top off and it just wants to crumble. A piece from the bottom is slowly becoming pliable. Is this normal? I didn't expect the stuff to crumble as I worked with it? What do I need to do? Thanks for your help.
Hmmmm...sounds like some air got inside or it's just old. That's how mine behaves when I don't wrap it properly.
If the top half of the tub will not become pliable by working in some Crisco (about 1/2 teaspoon to a 1/4 cup of gumpaste I'd guess)...then cut off the parts that are too hard and use the rest.
I think all gumpaste is supposed to be worked for a few minutes with Crisco to "condition it." I've been using Nicolas Lodge's recipe found here on CC. Actually, I bought some already made from Globalsugarart.com but it's the same recipe.
It sounds like you got a bad bag of gumpaste. Can you take it back to the store and exchange it for another one?
As you have said, the gumpaste is hard but should be pliable, NOT crumbly. I started buying the cans of gumpaste mix because the bag stuff is 1. too expensive and 2. it is often bad like your bag is.
Sorry you are having these troubles and hopefully you can take it back for an exchange!